The 12 Best Pain-Relieving Essential Oils for Nerve Pain

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If you suffer from nerve pain, you may feel like you’ve exhausted all the options to relieve it, and yet you are still left in discomfort.

If you’ve never tried using essential oils to quell your pain, this is the article for you. Here’s a rundown of twelve essential oils that work on nerve pain, so you can get relief and potentially even reverse some nerve damage without expensive drugs that have unwanted side effects.

12 Essential Oils for Nerve Pain

Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil gives you a triple whammy with its use, as it is simultaneously an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic. Its relaxing and cooling qualities make it both mentally and physically helpful in treating nerve pain, and it is a favorite ingredient in natural preparations for neuralgia, especially sciatica–pain from the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back/hip area all the way to the feet and ankles. Peppermint essential oil also increases circulation, thereby bringing healing to damaged nerves after injury.

Geranium

Geranium is an essential anti-inflammatory oil that also boosts circulation. It is known to decrease neuropathic pain on contact while speeding healing cells to areas of nerve damage. Geranium essential oil has been proven in scientific studies to provide relief from the pain of shingles, an unpleasant condition that results from the reactivation of varicella (chickenpox) virus lying dormant in the nerves.

Lavender

Lavender essential oil is another triple threat to nerve pain, acting as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic. It is helpful for all kinds of nerve pain and a universal remedy for neuralgia, including sciatica. Lavender essential oil has also been studied and shown to relieve postoperative pain. Its calming aroma can help alleviate the stress that exacerbates pain and can assist with sleep. If you use lavender topically for nerve pain, try adding it to a diffuser or linen spray for added aromatherapy benefits.

Helichrysum

Helichrysum essential oil has antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and mild sedative properties. In addition to helping with nerve pain, this essential oil helps rebuild cells so that it may be beneficial in nerve regeneration following injury. Because helichrysum is also an excellent essential oil for skin renewal, it may be a good choice for nerve pain related to burns.

Eucalyptus

With its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties, eucalyptus essential oil is a popular choice for treating sciatica and temporary nerve paralysis.

Since it improves circulation, eucalyptus essential oil is also helpful in treating neuralgia, as it can increase the flow of therapeutic cells to the area of pain.

This essential oil is a workhorse for overall pain, including muscle and joint pain, so it is particularly useful after injury. Its warming sensation makes it ideal for inclusion in massage oil blends.

Chamomile

Some fans say German chamomile is the greatest anti-inflammatory of all the essential oils, due to its high quantities of chamazulene and alpha-bisabolol. Its antiphlogistic nature means it helps reduce swelling, making it perfect for post-traumatic injury or the swelling that often accompanies diabetic neuropathy.

It accomplishes this by constricting blood vessels around the nerves, thereby relieving pressure that causes pain. Roman chamomile essential oil is also an anti-inflammatory and antiphlogistic, and it has analgesic and antispasmodic properties as well.

Marjoram

Another all-around healer, marjoram essential oil is an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic. You can use this essential oil for all types of nerve pain in multiple delivery routes (see “Tips,” below). To enhance the effectiveness of marjoram essential oil, try combining it with sage and rosemary essential oils.

Clove

Used for centuries to combat a variety of health conditions, clove essential oil is another three-in-one agent, offering analgesia, anti-inflammation, and relief from spasms. Clove essential oil has antioxidants that help protect the cells of the body, and its warming effect provides numbing pain relief on par with benzocaine, which blocks nerve signals going to the brain.

Balsam Fir

Balsam fir essential oil affords analgesic effects on nerve pain through its intense warming sensation. This essential oil dramatically improves blood flow, alleviating spasms and speeding healing. Because poor circulation is the cause of diabetic neuropathy, balsam fir essential oil may be a good choice for early manifestations of this condition.

Ginger

The sesquiterpene compounds in ginger essential oil lend it its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties. Also a warming essential oil, ginger works best when combined with other essential oils for a synergistic effect.

Frankincense

Mildly sedative and anti-inflammatory, frankincense essential oil improves the communication between nerves and the brain, which can help eliminate improper messages that result in nerve pain. Because frankincense essential oil also boosts the immune system, it’s ideal for nerve pain related to illness (see cautions related to chemotherapy and radiation in “Tips,” below).

Wintergreen

Another triple-action essential oil, wintergreen also functions as an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic. Like clove essential oil, wintergreen offers numbing relief similar to topical medications. Additionally, wintergreen essential oil contains methyl salicylate, which the body converts to salicylic acid–a common ingredient in NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen).

8 DIY Essential Oils Based Recipes that Treat Nerve Pain

General Nerve Pain Blend

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients above in a small glass bottle.
  2. Cap and gently roll between the palms to mix.
  3. Apply to areas of the body where nerve pain is experienced.
  4. The recipe can be multiplied for large-scale or daily use.
  5. (Hint: St. John’s wort herbal tincture can be substituted for the carrier oil when treating sciatica, shooting nerve pain, or shingles.)

Neuropathy Blend #1

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients above in a small glass jar or beaker.
  2. Apply to 2-4 drops to areas of neuropathy and gently massage into the skin.
  3. Use 3 to 5 times per day.
  4. (Hint: this is a right combination to use where total loss of feeling accompanies neuropathy, and a warming essential oil could irritate the skin see “Tips,” below.)

Neuropathy Blend #2

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients above in a small glass bottle or beaker by rolling gently between the palms or stirring with a tongue depressor.
  2. Apply to the neuropathic areas first thing in the morning and at night before bed (ideally, without socks, see “Tips,” below).

Carpal Tunnel Blend

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients above in a small glass bottle.
  2. Cap and roll gently between the palms to blend.
  3. Apply daily to hands and wrists, working into the skin like hand lotion.
  4. (Hint: for large-scale use, multiply the recipe as needed and store in a larger container.)

Massage Blend

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Combine all the ingredients above in a glass bottle with a spill-proof top.
  • Roll between the palms to blend the mixture.
  • Apply to areas of nerve pain or entire body during the massage.
  • (Hint: keep away from eyes and mucous membranes.)

Massage Bar

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In a double boiler over low heat, melt the cocoa butter, coconut oil, and sweet almond oil together, stirring to mix.
  2. Pour the melted mixture into silicone baking molds (or muffin tins, in a pinch) to allow to cool.
  3. Allow sitting about 5 minutes before adding the essential oils (waiting keeps the essential oils from oxidizing in the hot liquid and losing their effectiveness).
  4. Stir the essential oils to mix, and place the molds in the freezer so that the mixture can solidify.
  5. Wait until the blend is solid and remove from the molds.
  6. Store in the freezer in zippered plastic bags until ready to use.
  7. Rub on areas of nerve pain during massage–tidier and more portable than regular massage oil and great for seniors for whom small oil bottles present fine motor difficulty.

Headache Blend

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients above in a small glass bottle.
  2. Cap and roll between the palms to blend.
  3. Apply a dab or two to the base of the neck to relieve headache pain.
  4. (Hint: use a bottle with a rollerball top for ease of portability.)

Sciatica Blend

Ingredients:

  • 2 drops clove EO
  • 15 drops copaiba EO
  • 1 oz. carrier oil of choice (sweet almond, jojoba, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Mix the ingredients above in a small glass bottle.
  2. Cap and roll between the palms to blend.
  3. Apply to the length of the sciatic nerve, from the lower back, along with the hamstring muscles on the back of the thigh, and down the calf to the outer ankle if necessary (follow the route of the pain).


General Nerve Pain FAQ

Your body is a giant web of nerves from head to toe, and if all your neurons (nerve cells) were lined up end to end, they would stretch for about 600 miles. There are more than 13 million neurons in the spinal cord alone. Your nerves function at high-speed rates, transmitting signals at 180 miles per hour–as fast as the high-speed Chunnel train between London and Paris! It’s no wonder that when nerve pain strikes, it can be devastating.

All pain technically comes from your nerves, but the medical definition of nerve pain is discomfort stemming from the nerve itself, not secondary to another problem like a bone or joint injury. There are multiple causes of nerve pain:

  • medical conditions like diabetes and multiple sclerosis
  • alcoholism
  • vitamin deficiency (especially the B vitamins)
  • tumors
  • pesticide and toxic chemical exposure
  • HIV
  • genetics
  • injury directly to the nerves

How do doctors diagnose nerve pain? If you have no visible injury, no wounds on the skin and other causes can be ruled out; you likely have nerve pain. In some cases, the purpose of the pain cannot be determined, and the condition is called “idiopathic” pain, or pain of unknown origin.


No matter what the cause, nerve pain is typically described as different from other pain; in fact, more that 80 percent of diabetics (of whom about half suffer from nerve pain) say this type of discomfort is unique and distinguishable from other pain, like arthritis or common overuse.

What is the mechanism of nerve pain? Nerve pain results when the nerves of the body send abnormal signals to the brain, as opposed to the regular messages sent when you cut your finger or stub your toe. These signals can be interpreted in several ways by the brain, resulting in varying descriptions of nerve pain and associated medical terminology:

  • neuropathy: damage to the peripheral nerves, a common symptom of diabetes, which occurs in tingling sensations that can deteriorate to numbness and complete loss of feeling in the hands and feet
  • neuralgia: pain along the length of a nerve without any actual damage to it, often described as a burning sensation
  • neuritis: inflammation of a nerve or group of nerves, causing pain and sometimes loss of function

If the cause of nerve pain cannot be addressed, treatment is usually pharmaceutical. However, these medications often come with undesirable consequences, like sleepiness, physical dependence, addiction, excessive cost, and even high barrier to access, given today’s overuse of pain medications resulting in doctors denying relief to legitimate pain sufferers. Whether you have not found sufficient alleviation of pain from your existing drugs or merely want to try a more natural approach to pain relief, here are twelve essential oils have proven to help with nerve pain.

Closing Tips for Using Essential Oils for Nerve Pain

You can enhance the use of essential oils to treat nerve pain not just by selecting the right oils but also by choosing delivery routes that offer the most relief. While topical rubs and massage oils are popular and practical, don’t forget about inhalation, diffusion, body lotions, and hot compresses. You can also get significant relief simply by adding essential oils to your bath water or by applying them to reflexology points corresponding to various areas of the body.

Where you apply your essential oils can significantly affect their efficacy. Sometimes using essential oil treatments on just the arms and legs isn’t sufficient; you can enhance their effects by applying them to the roots of the nerve at the spine on the back and the neck. Remember, some nerves are very long. You may feel sciatic nerve pain in the ankle, but the cause of the problem is much higher up in the lower back and hip area.

Nerve pain can result in secondary problems, like muscle tension, stress, and anxiety. Don’t forget that you can use essential oils to treat these conditions as well. Taking a whole-body approach to managing nerve pain is often your best tack.

Essential oils work best to treat nerve pain when they can be left on the body for a long while to take effect. Try using your essential oil combinations at night right before bed for the greatest efficacy (and improved sleep!). If you have any swelling in your lower limbs, resist the urge to wear socks over essential oils applied there; you want the greatest blood flow possible to that area, and the elastic in your socks may impede that.

If you have had chemotherapy or radiation therapy, avoid using essential oils containing phenol compounds. These oils include:

  • Roman chamomile
  • eucalyptus
  • cedarwood
  • juniper berry
  • lavender
  • cypress
  • frankincense
  • lemongrass
  • geranium
  • helichrysum
  • copaiba

When in doubt, consult your healthcare provider about using essential oils. Never discontinue a prescribed medication instead of essential oils without talking to your doctor first.

Occasionally, people experience sensitivity to certain essential oils. Before using a new essential oil on a large area of the body, try a patch test first on a small spot to check it.

Since many of the essential oils above can give a warming sensation, be sure to dilute them first before applying them to the skin. In fact, this is a good rule of thumb when working with all essential oils. Use a carrier oil like coconut, sweet almond, olive, or jojoba, which have their benefits to your skin. If you have complete numbness in any area of the body, such as with diabetic neuropathy or multiple sclerosis, consult your doctor first before using essential oils that generate “heat. This is so you don’t overdo it without noticing–a bit like burning yourself from lack of feeling, which can leave your skin red and irritated.

Most essential oils are for external use only. Use essential oils internally only under the care of a healthcare provider experienced with essential oils. Never use essential oils directly on an unhealed surgical incision site or on open skin without a doctor’s recommendation.

If you are using essential oils on injured or damaged nerves, you may experience odd sensations or even pain if the nerves begin to regenerate. Consult your healthcare provider if this continues for more than a few days.

While the essential oils listed above are the top oils for treating nerve pain, there are many others that work on nerves as well:

  • nutmeg
  • bergamot
  • black pepper
  • rosemary
  • black spruce
  • ylang-ylang
  • clary sage
  • juniper berry
  • basil
  • cypress
  • yarrow
  • sandalwood
  • tarragon
  • lemongrass
  • tangerine
  • blue tansy

Conclusion

Enjoy experimenting with different essential oil combinations for the relief they can bring your nerve pain, as well as for their wonderful aromatic effects on your mood and mental well being!

Welcome to EOSanctuary

Hi. Glad to see you here. My name is Loren Elara and I run Essential Oil Sanctuary. I’d love to connect with you and share ideas. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please make yourself heard!

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9 thoughts on “The 12 Best Pain-Relieving Essential Oils for Nerve Pain”

  1. I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in January and have had weekly chemo (and targeted-therapy every third week) since February. My cancer is in remission (praise God!) I just finished chemotherapy and will start radiation treatments soon. Also, one of the ongoing targeted-therapy drugs I’ll need (every third week for the rest of my life) to keep my cancer in remission also has neuropathy as a side-effect.

    I have chemotherapy-induced neuropathy on my hands (especially my fingertips), feet (especially the toes and balls of my feet), even up into my calves. The pain isn’t bad in the morning but gets worse as the day goes on; by suppertime, it’s really bad. And at bedtime… good luck trying to find a comfortable sleeping position. Just a sheet on my toes (no other blankets) hurts!

    Please help me! Your neuropathy recipes contain chemo/radiation therapy patients shouldn’t use. What oils can I safely use for my neuropathy? Ideally, I’d like to not just manage the pain, but heal and reverse the nerve damage.

    I’ve never heard that there are oils chemo patients shouldn’t use. What is the reason for avoiding oils containing phenol compounds? What happens when chemo-patients use oils containing phenol compounds? Should I avoid using these oils for the rest of my life (especially since the Perjeta (and maybe the Herceptin, too) I need has neuropathy as a side effect… it’s not chemo, but ongoing “targeted therapy”).

    Also, is there a list of oils that are safe for chemo patients? In addition to neuropathy, I’ve struggled for years with insomnia, joint pain (arthritis?), stress/anxiety. I also have very sensitive skin and eczema off-and-on. I’ve been using a lot of the oils on your not-to-use list.

    I’m sorry to ask so many questions, but I’ve only been using essential oils since March (after a doctor recommended them), and this chemo-patient/essential-oil-newbie needs all the good advice I can get! I just turned 56 and hope to have many neuropathy-pain-free years ahead of me.

    I’ve been given nothing but bad advice by health professionals! I’ve been using a lotion for a week or two that was highly recommended by a nurse where I’ve been getting chemo (and where I’ll get radiation treatments) that contains german chamomile, lavender, rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus and birch bark essential oils. Half these oils are on your list that I shouldn’t be using! I was also given recipes by a doctor (a specialist!) that includes oils I shouldn’t be using!

    I’m truly dismayed that a doctor (a highly recommended specialist!) and a radiation-therapy nurse gave me bad advice!! This article should be required reading for all health professionals!

    This article is full of very important information. Thank you very VERY much!!!

  2. @Kristi – So surprised you have not had a reply to your post. This is but one persons view. This article is full of great information. Researching and getting several is better, even from those that have your same situation. This is first I have come across that have a list this extensive to not use if you have had chemo. This site: http://www.integrativehealthcare.org/mt/archives/2009/09/what_you_need_t.html has some great recommendations. Here is some of the info:
    Chemotherapy

    Aromatherapists Jane Buckle, Ann Percival and Pam Conrad are registered nurses who have studied the impact different essential oils have on those undergoing cancer treatment. These experts concluded that, because essential oils can compete with cell receptor sites utilized in chemotherapy, aromatherapy application should adhere to the following guidelines to ensure safety:

    Essential oils can be applied in massage up to two days before a chemotherapy treatment.
    Essential oils should be avoided for nine to ten days after chemotherapy administration.
    During a chemotherapy regimen, keep the dose of essential oils low by using only two drops per ounce of carrier oil or lotion.
    While inhalation to counteract nausea accompanying chemotherapy is acceptable, there are provisions for peppermint and ginger.
    Peppermint can be inhaled unless the client has cardiac problems or is on the chemotherapy drug 5FU, since peppermint enhances its absorption fourfold.
    Although ginger is another good essential oil choice for relieving nausea, it can reduce clotting time.
    It is better to check around as this author makes a statement but does not back it up with any further information. Staying calm is a must when your body is healing. Try not to let reading all kinds of different information be upsetting. I wish you well and you are in my prayers.

  3. Sandra Van Asch

    I have numbness, nerve pain and tingling from the knee down after having hip replacement surgery. I have had many MRI’s and Nerve Conduction test which show no cut or pinched nerves. According to several doctors, they “think” the sciatic nerve “may?” have been bruised. No one is use. I am overwhelmed at the list above for essential oils that will help nerve pain. In my case, what would be the top oils for applying to the numbness, tingling, pain from the knee down that I am experiencing? My friend also has the same problems with her arm after having surgery on her hand. Any info you could provide is greatly appreciated. Someone told me Frankincense and Myrrh. But I am not sure. How do I know if the oils I buy are good quality?

    1. Sandra,

      Not sure if you ever got an answer to your question, but I recommend researching essential oil companies well because there are a lot of synthetic and imitation products out there. You want to make sure the oils you use are pure, potent, and ethically sourced.

      Frankincense has anti inflammatory properties and aids in cellular regeneration. It helps ease feelings of stress and tension. Myrhh has been shown to have beneficial antioxidant effects. It is also antibacterial, antifungal and anti-parasitic properties. In addition it is great for relaxation.

      If you would like more info, please feel free to reach out to me through my Facebook page, Pure Simplicity.

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